BH: I’ve asked questions of Terry Hemmings, who’s the head of my label (Provident Music), about what it was like to hang out with Rich. He went on for hours talking about him, things that I don’t even feel the freedom of sharing in this interview.
CCM: [Laughs] That’s common, yeah?
BH: Yeah. I was really intrigued by who he was as a person. I loved his candor and his transparency. It gave me permission to do that, not only in an interview, but also on stage. When I see an artist perform, I don’t want to hear them talk unless they have something to say, and Rich always seemed to have something to say.
CCM: Jason, this lyric from your song, “The Wound Is Where The Light Gets In”: “You can recognize a saint by the scars they don’t disguise / You can pick a real sinner by the kindness in their eyes / So if you’re stumbling in the dark and bleeding at the shin / Remember the wound is where the light gets in.” In my estimation, that lyric is a real embodiment of this kind of “ragamuffin gospel” that Rich tried to live.
Jason Gray: It seems like it’s who he was, and it happened in the wake of him— wherever he went there was a thing that kind of happened in his wake …
CCM: … his ability to express how our apparent weaknesses become some of our most effective strengths.
JG: Yeah, I recognize that. One of the things that I’ve found most compelling and attractive about Rich’s work was that he had no regard for his reputation—and so the freedom that goes along with that. I was watching this YouTube clip where from the stage, in his introduction of the song, “Hold Me Jesus”—this is the mid-90s at a church somewhere—he’s talking about being alone in a hotel and how hard it is not to watch “those” movies in the hotel room. As he’s talking, I’m realizing I don’t know any artist in contemporary Christian music who would risk revealing … he’s basically saying that after the show he struggles with watching porn. There’s just something so healing and attractive about that kind of transparency.
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